West Carteret junior Bryan Garner, right, and his grandpa Gary Garner pose as members of the school’s last two football conference champions. Gary Garner was a sophomore when the program last won a conference title in 1964. The younger Garner helped the Patriots win at least a share of the 2021 3A Coastal Conference on Friday. (Zack Nally photo)

MOREHEAD CITY — The West Carteret football team did something Friday it hadn’t done since Beatlemania struck the country in 1964.

The phrase on everyone’s lips at the stadium was “57 years.” That’s how long it’d been since the program won a conference championship. The 48-7 win over Swansboro on Friday brought the drought to an end, giving West at least a share of the 3A Coastal Conference title with one more game left to play.

After the game, West junior Bryan Garner got a hug from his grandpa, Gary Garner, who was a sophomore for the 1964 team that last won a league title. That was the first year after Morehead City High School changed its name to West Carteret.

Gary, 73, visited from his home in Florida this week with the hopes of seeing the championship come home again.

“It has changed a lot, but it feels good to be home,” he said. “It wasn’t quite like this back then, but it’s still kind of the same. I really enjoyed the game, and I hope they go far in the state playoffs.”

Garner, proud to be part of the homecoming with his grandpa on hand for another league title, caught five passes for 59 yards in the game.

“I’m really glad my grandpa got to be here,” he said. “This is something everyone has wanted to happen for a really long time.”

On Friday, the Patriots have a chance to win the conference championship outright with a win over Croatan.

The banner year for West looks similar to the last historical season in 1964. The Patriots started that season 1-3-1 before head coach Norman Clark led the team to a five-game win streak to take the Coastal Plains Conference. This year, the team started 1-2 before Daniel Barrow led the program to five straight wins to take the Coastal.

The five-game win streak that season began with a 26-19 victory over Wallace-Rose Hill. This year, it started with a 33-0 shutout of East Carteret in the 53rd annual Mullet Bucket. Funnily enough, the Patriots blanked Beaufort High School – East Carteret would be established the following year – in 1964 as well.

In 1964, the Patriots outscored their opponents 175-44. En route to this year’s championship, they’re outscoring their opponents 195-56.

(1) comment


I so remember Gary from football and high school and baseball back to Little League. Coach Clark and Coach Patrick when I was JUNIOR AND SENIOR AND GETTING TO THE 3-A-PLAYOFFS IN ROXBORO. WONDERFUL MEMORIES AND MUCH CHANGE. (LOVE ERRANT COMPUTER KEYS).

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